4 Characteristics of Challenger Brands in 2023

With a global pandemic in the rearview and a potential recession on the horizon, 2023 is ripe for Challenger Brands to take names and put all competitors on notice. With market dynamics shifting rapidly under our feet, these Challenger Brands embody the flexibility and ambition to seize the opportunity and win. But what else sets these brands apart from their laggardly competition? While Challengers come in all sizes and across all industries, these brands are united by 4 characteristics of Challenger Brands that you can start incorporating today.

1. Challenger Brands Balance Organic and Paid Content

Challenger Brands know that a one-size-fits-all approach to marketing just doesn’t cut it in today’s crowded marketplace. Instead, they balance organic and paid content initiatives to reach their target audience from all angles. While paid media can instantly spread the word like wildfire, organic content is the engine that builds trust and engagement.

Too often, brands are attracted by the siren-song of quick paid media ROI, which entices them to take their foot off of organic mediums. Challenger Brands fight this temptation by actively monitoring and fine-tuning paid campaigns, while creating a realistic investment framework that provides a clear timeframe of return for both channels.

2. Challenger Brands Engage with Empathy, Inside and Out

Gone are the days of soulless, robotic marketing that’s laser-focused on ROI. As the market tides ebb towards a recession, brands need to lead with empathy across every inch of their business–from internal teams to external customers.

Challenger Brands aim for consistency in their approach, imbuing empathy into their culture and across internal teams to reinforce the external message marketing will communicate. Because as budgets are cut and as pressures mount, consumer spending habits will shift from discretionary to essentials-only. Challenger Brands that create an emotional connection and deeper relationships with customers have a fighting chance of remaining in that essentials category.

3. Challenger Brands Embrace Radical Transparency

Consumers have always had a BS-radar, sniffing out inauthenticities and facades a brand might deploy. And in 2023, that radar is firing on all cylinders. To combat this, Challenger Brands embrace radical transparency to cut through the noise and build trust with customers. They’re open and honest about how their products are built. They encourage customers to scrutinize their business practices. This all-consuming transparency invites their target audience behind the curtains, while encouraging them to question the morality and ethics of other brands they choose to engage with.

But brands can’t rush this process. Challenger Brands bake transparency into the culture, creating openness and honesty that permeates through internal teams. This allows them to open their doors in a thoughtful way, which better prepares these challengers for the tough questions that come when consumers look under the hood.

Challenger Brands also take a data-first approach to back up their transparency and goals, replacing empty claims with data-backed promises. It doesn’t matter what sector these challengers are in–there’s room for more transparency everywhere, and Challengers are leading that charge.

4. Challenger Brands Pursue Profit and Purpose

Once upon a time, the money-hungry goals of capitalism were at war with the earth-saving hopes of environmentalism. But today, that feud has melted into true cohesion, where businesses are choosing to support communities and the planet in addition to their bottom line. This is an evolved form of capitalism that Challenger Brands employ: a business model that benefits communities and the planet, alongside their shareholders. A model that pursues both profit and purpose.

Challenger Brands that make a positive impact in the world while creating value for customers develop a positive-reinforcement loop, where their customer-base and eco initiatives rise in tandem. Their differentiation in the marketplace becomes untouchable. They win, and the planet wins.


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👋 I'm Rahul, founder and CMO at 5&Vine. Reach out to schedule an intro call about your marketing challenges and let's assess how 5&Vine can help your brand win.

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